Chelan Commissioner To Testify Before State Senate Committee On Aquatic Center
Chelan County Commissioner Kevin Overbay will testify in the Washington Senate Thursday on a bill from State Senator Brad Hawkins that would open the door for a regional aquatic center to be built.
County spokesperson Jill FitzSimmons said he would be appearing virtually from a remote location, and would not be physically at the state capitol in Olympia.
The bill would allow for a second public facilities district to be created in Chelan and Douglas counties, which would be in addition to the existing district that brought the Town Toyota Center.
Commissioners on Monday discussed the need to for them to be neutral on whether the aquatic center should actually be built, and focus on the need for a feasibility study to be done.
Overbay says his testimony in the Senate committee will be limited.
"I'll keep it more about the partnerships pieces and where we have been successful in working collaboratively together with our cities and our counties in multiple aspects of the community that show that we have these working relationships in the service of the citizens," said Overbay.
He says he'll highlight partnerships between Chelan and Douglas counties such as the Rivercom police dispatch center and Pangborn Airport.
Hawkins has indicated he'll try to get the bill to allow for the aquatic center passed before any decision is made on whether to move forward with it.
Commissioner Tiffany Gering raised concern that the commission could be perceived as being in favor of the aquatic center, and stressed the need for clear messaging that the public have the option to weigh in on any decision.
Overbay said commissioners don't have enough information on whether to support and be against a regional aquatic center until a feasibility study is done.
At the moment, commissioners have pledged up to $50,000 for the study. Douglas County as well as the cities of Wenatchee and East Wenatchee are also being asked to pledge money for the study, as is the Chelan-Douglas Regional Port Authority.
The study is projected to cost $300,000.
Overbay said it's important to have an option to move ahead with the aquatic center if there's widespread agreement.
"I guess for me, having the option, having the increased opportunity and option is, kind of, what I'm landing on here," Overbay said. "It's not something that we have to do. And realistically, there's going to be a ballot measure that will have to come out that will have the approval of this board anyway to go to the ballot. And then, basically it's up to the citizens."
Voters in all of the cities and the two counties would vote on a sales and use tax of one or two-tenths-of-one-percent that would be used to build the regional aquatic center.